Wednesday, November 05, 2008

"Love means never having to say you're sorry?"

"Love means never having to say you're sorry" as well as "Today is the first day of the rest of your life," were some of those trendy-sayings that were in vogue in the early 1970s. I use to doodle the phrases on the front of my school notebooks in those days. Or as Dylan might say, "Strike another match, go start anew ..." after all, it's all about change.

DC partied hard into the wee hours of the morning and it's still continuing into the mid-day. Thousands poured out of their homes, apartments, and condos and into the city streets last night, finally ending up in front of the White House as though they were having some San Francisco-Happening love-in - idyllic, enthusiastic and romantic exuberance as though a war had ended, which perhaps - from a certain point of view - many believe has ended.

What is curious is that many - if not most of the revelers appear to be upwardly-mobile, well-educated, and fashionably dressed urban professionals. They are still celebrating here in Dupont Circle - I just passed a whole host of them, who were yelling and hugging and carrying on with their excitement on the sidewalk, as though the Redskins had just won the Super Bowl.

What we have is the Perfect Presidential Bobo, the first GenXer President. David Brooks has written a splendid book about the Bobos in America (called Bobos in Paradise which you can get at Amazon here). Bobo stands for Bohemian Bourgeois. A Bobo has the outer trappings of the bourgeois, the family, the nice house, the nice car, the nice church, the puppy - the structures look quite bourgeois, but underneath all those trappings is an embrace of more bohemian values, dressed up in the nice package so we might not at first grasp that these values, this philosophy, this political point of view are anything but bourgeois, but are in fact as far "out there" as one can get while still living in the nice house with the nice family, the nice puppy, the nice car, the nice church - all upwardly mobile and a focus of envy.

What struck me this morning is that America actually elected the "traditional" candidate. Obama is far more "traditional" in appearance than John McCain, who spent years in a prison, who has been married twice, divorced only to immediately marry a blond heiress, who has been a politician for thirty years in Washington. There is very little there that Americans want to identify with (even if they do). That past is filled with shame, just like America.

But over here with President-elect Obama we have an ideal - a handsome man in his prime, very well-educated, sorta cool but not exactly, with his beautiful first-and-only wife, with adorable children - to whom he promises a puppy. Who spends most of his time uttering slogans that are received as though they were anointed from on high - why? Because he is appealing to the best part of people. There is no room for shame, no, not any more. It's all bliss. The New America.

What is really surprising is the lack of cynicism - at least openly. It appears that for many people, they do believe they have entered into the Promised Land and out of Egypt. They are truly filled with glee - even here in hard-nosed Washington. Overseas we see similar outbursts - why even Kenya called today a national holiday to celebrate. The world rejoices as this new American messiah who will come and feed the people, calm the seas, and bring light to the world. All caution is tossed to the wind, as though to even utter a word of caution will somehow break the spell.

It's as if America - and the world - has fallen in love.



But someone somewhere still sits in a cave and waits.

9 comments:

Pageantmaster said...

Bobo over here is burnt out but opulent, so this is a new one on me.

If the land that is the past is any guide to the future, shortly after the inauguration then someone will see how far they can push President Obama - Carter had the Iran hostages, there was Libya and Iraq, and Afghanistan. That is when the mettle of a new president is tested.

But today prayers for your president elect and your country - and I have to say watching your process in action is always a model and your country at its best.

Kevin said...

Yes, BB, but you know this town, there are no neutral parties and politics is the name of the game,Redskins or Nats sometimes, but nothing like politics.

This happens to be their day. I remember when Reagan won it was the GOP up-&-coming's day (they were called Yuppies).


So a good portion of my friends are out of jobs as their boss didn't get elected. The housing market will pick up a bit with moves into the area others move on. A bunch of staffers will get cool political appointments with lots of money. All to change in two, four, six and eight years again.


Sometimes I wonder what living in a normal town is like.

Pageantmaster said...

Looks like it has started

RSchllnbrg said...

As NT Wright warns us in many different writings, the liberal Christian world has a very hard time taking evil seriously, or dealing with it effectively.

I too have heard the talk about the new redeemer that has arrived to save us from the mess those nasty brutish Republicans got us into (so I suppose evil can be named at times) ... but as one archliberal friend of mine stated this morning, "Ah but now we actually have to govern." Yup, the pressure is on.

I pray the new administration can live up to even a part of its good press and expectations. Hope is audacious at times, but the hope that gets squashed leaves a very deep wound indeed.

Personally, I can't imagine wanting the job of president at this moment in time. What a heavy burden to have to carry.

R+

BigJimInTX said...

BB, I was struck while hearing Obama's victory speech that he mesmerized so many voters the same way he did his daughters by appealing to basic needs.

He promised the kids a goodie in the form of a puppy.

He promised voters all sorts of "goodies", like the now-infamous supporter who believes the government will now provide her with gas and pay her mortgage. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6ikOxi9yYk

Anonymous said...

The world rejoices as this new American messiah who will come and feed the people, calm the seas, and bring light to the world.

No, not really. But the world certainly rejoices that Bush is gone and repudiated by a majority of Americans, and that "Bomb Iran" McCain and "Domionist" Palin are not heading for the white house.

watching your process in action is always a model and your country at its best.

Well, the US hasn't been much of a model recently though, has it?

And that is the point: by election Obama, the US has a chance to become a model again.

If Obama does nothing more than pay a little more attention to the other 5 Billion people in the world than the previous incumbent did, for those of us who have the misfortune not to be American, then that will be cause enough for rejoicing

If he closes Gitmo; somehow gets out of Iraq; or stops rattling quite so many sabres at quite so many other countries - that would be the icing on the cake.

The sad thing is - which I think Powell understood at the end - is that most of the world loves America, loves what America truly stands for: truth; justice; peace; equality; freedom. Sure the French do (most of them were their ideas originally); but so do the Iranians; the Kenyans; basically everyone everywhere.

And for better or for worse, the impression Bush has created in most of us 5 billion is that America is about none of those things: the truth is whatever the president says it is; justice comes out of the barrel of a gun (and US forces anywhere are never held to account); peace is what happens when you're dead; freedom means that anyone on an airplane is treated as a criminal; that you may be "rendered" and tortured; or even that **Americans** will torture or kill you; and of course that America is more equal than everyone else.

Obama - somehow - offers us at leas the illusion and the hope that America will take the chance to live up to her own ideals once again. So you should not be surprised the whole world is - after what seems like a very long time - overjoyed and full of hope for America, and for what this may mean for all of us.

Hening said...

There was a bouncer shot at the gala, and a large brawl broke out. Now just imagine that someone was able to get into the Chicago celebration on election night with a gun. They didn't mention the skin color of the shooter, but it smells like Hip-Hop culture (aka Hip-Hop Episcopal Hymnal). Obama created his league of brown shirts during his rise to the presidency, and it will be interesting to see when the night of the long knives begins.

America has made a terrible mistake, and we all have to live with it now.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, will you take in the folks at GITMO? How about becoming a big brother to one of them? They can share your roof.
You are right about one thing -- obama is an illusion.
I don't know where you live, but I'm willing to bet you are better off because of America. Perhaps we liberated your country the last century with our blood, or protected your country from the Russian bear with our treasury. It is ironic -- you think the man who would be the first to want to cut and run will do more for you. Only in an ideal world. And anon -- the Russians and Islamics and many many other bad guys out there are not ideal. Well, good luck to you -- you will fall before we will.

Anonymous said...

The problem with "Bobos in Paradise", like much of Brooks' sociological writing, is that he gets the superficial stuff (which admittedly is very interesting) right but misses the larger direction and meaning. In that book for example, he said that the Bobos were largely apolitical. Turns out they weren't, with important consequences. Much better, I think, is Paul Fussell's "Class". The Bobos of Brooks are the Class X that Fussell saw forming long before.

Of course, this only applies in the States. The class system in the US is much different and less spoken of than in the UK. It is stricter in some ways, but it is not hereditary, so that one can move from one class to another more readily - if one can discover and decode the rules.